tv Jack David Discusses The Gulf CSPAN April 16, 2017 6:30pm-7:47pm EDT
primetime lineup the national correspondent with the atlantic profiles, some of the tens of thousands of people around the world who have to join ices. that all happens tonight on c-span to book tv. first up, here's environmental history professor, jack davis. [applause] good afternoon. no one likes to sit in the front row but there are, one, two, three, six, three, six, seven seats in the front rows. come have a seat. i know you and can call you out to come sit down. i want to begin by thanking, taking mcdonald's and all of those who have made the masses in such a big source of support for gainesville offers in their books. peggy, thank you so much. [applause]
some of the best nonfiction writingallows us to see something we thought we knew wellin an entirely new way. this has been the power of my friend, jack davis' career, as an environmental, historian who examines the past not through the side glasses of sailors but through the curve of the land, the running of the tide and the rush of the wind and rain. this is also the power of jack's new book were here to celebrate, the gulf: the making of an american city. the clear light of nature, tells a truer story, than the cloudy minds of men. nature decorates in his
introduction has been and i quote participants at the sis and catalyst. the riches that made nations wealthy and powerful and overreached their armies fought, it was the wildness our ancestors insisted on taming, discourage that left them despairing and the blessing that kept them alive". introducing jack in the golf is a challenge as his praise for this book is deep. i thrown all of that out, instead, since he plans to talk about some of the revelations in his book. i thought i would share a few revelations about jack. last fall the two of us led about two dozen students on an
overnight field trip to sikorsky, and uninhabited golf barrier island. sensitive to the consciousness of the students and my nature writing class and his environmental history class and the number of vegans among them, i declared the weekend vegetarian. i asked everyone to make a veg dish for our potluck dinners. when we all went to prepare our dishes in an old lighthouse kitchen on saturday night, jack uncovered his to reveal meatloaf. [laughter] jack and i have been writing friends for ten years.
almost every morning around 5:0o test out insights, to find just the right word or metaphor or to restore each other's confidence after a rejection letter or too long a silence from editors in new york. only now will jack know how annoyed i was by that meatloaf. [laughter] as we all do, with the people we value and as the best writers do with their subjects, i i had to open my mind to the complexity that my friend in the environmental historian does not fit into a politically correct green stroke. let me spell a few other myths about jack. he has a reputation among students for being severe especially when it comes to grammar.
woe is the one who uses a passive voice, who punctuates outside quotation marks, or or that uses that when a school should be. [laughter] i'm glad you got my jokes. once they take his class, the students discover their professor sensitivity. particularly, when the weather is nice and he takes them outside. he likes to talk about his keen a plant hall where scientists say is one of the oldest long legs in the region and a rare survivor of a mid- 92 million acres of southern long for us destroyed. jack is also known for his exercise and diet regime working out six days a week and eating little more then, you guessed
it, meat, vegetables and fruit. the real story here is more complex. discovering it literally requires rifling through his desk drawers. the fitness guru consumes an astonishing amount of chocolate. [laughter] jack's entire top right this store is dark chocolate bars, all 85% cocoa. he nibbles squares of them while he writes in the wee hours when the rest of us are drinking coffee. richer than the chocolate are the stories jack reveals in this beautiful book. before he shares a few of them i could properly introduce him as a us professor who researches, writes and teaches, not only on the environment but also race, feminism, florida and
sustainability. as the author, editor or coeditor of six other books including his award-winning biography, of marjorie stoneman douglas called the everglades providence and best of all as father to his fabulous daughter, willa. you can raise your hand willa. [applause] so, what happens with the meatloaf at the vegetarian potluck? first, several ravenous students exclaimed thank god. [laughter] or gay professor davis' point then it was wiped clean before any of the others.
the late great writer harry cruz and this is if you like living in gainesville. if smack in the middle of the state. you can get up in the morning and drive an hour east and watch the sunrise from behind the atlantic ocean and then you can turn around and come back to gainesville and write a story for playboy or esquire and if that didn't work out, have a cocktail and lunch. of course harry cruz wasn't just one cocktail it was two or three, maybe four and somehow he managed to get back into the car and drive last an hour to feed her key and the sun set in the gulf of mexico. having spent most of my life on the gulf of mexico, i've seen countless golf sunsets and they make it very hard for me to live landlocked in gainesville.
missing the gulf of mexico, is the gainesville community. that's you guys. thank you for coming out. it's a beautiful day, thank you for sacrificing your day to spend your time locked inside for walls. i almost didn't come. [laughter] i also want to thank, there are anybody who's written a book and there are many in here who have written wonderful books, you know that it's not a solitary endeavor. there are many people involved and i want and there are several of those here, friends, family, librarians who are also friends, students, former students and these things really cannot come
to be without the help of so many of those. i also want to thank peggy mcdonald for doing such a wonderful job with this museum and in organizing this event and publicizing the hell out of it. i know you're tired of her facebook messages but i appreciate each and every one of them. course, i have to think cynthia barnett and she suggested that she and i have this writing relationship and it's been a wonderful one for me. it's changed my profession and cynthia is a good friend but also a wonderful professional partner. she works as hard as anybody to promote this event, she's my local publicist i like to say. we have this fantastic professional relationship and if
there's anything, any part in this book that shines, you could be sure that cynthia had a role in it. she read every every single word of this manuscript, in draft, many words, more than once, multiple multiple times and she listened to my angst about this word or that word. thank you, cynthia. i want to begin by sharing a few facts about the gulf of mexico that you may not know. the gulf of mexico is the largest gulf in the tenth largest body of water in the world. yet geographers, consider the gulf of mexico, a mere part of the atlantic ocean. i think is a rip off to the gulf of mexico. the gulf began forming long before the atlantic was a puddle of water.
technically, makes the the gulf of mexico the big sibling to the larger sibling. we know about the beautiful beaches but did you know when you are walking on those beaches you are walking down mountains? it's a beautiful quartz sand that we have in florida and other parts of the gulf originated as erosion from appellation mountains. at one time, this this was as high as the himalayan mountains. the beaches were not the reason or the reason for the golf tour season. it was a tarpon back in the 19th century launch what was today the gulf multi- billion-dollar tourist trade.
were also familiar with the dead zone. it can reach the size of connecticut depending on conditions but i bet you didn't know there is a direct connection between the golf dead zones and the commercial sponsors of saturday morning cartoons. if you want to know more about that, you'll have to read the book. [laughter] and of course we know, gulf is a magnet for hurricanes. it's been the site of the deadliest hurricanes in the us history and the galveston storm of the 19 hundreds which took 18 to 10,000 lives. the costliest hurricane which was of course, hurricane katrina in 2005 with racked up a hundred and $8 million in damages, also took 1900 life.
i would be ashamed in the presence of a cynthia barnett the author of that wonderful book, rain, if i didn't didn't say something about rain on the gulf. it's the rainiest city in the us is on the gulf of mexico. does anyone know what city that is? take a stab. it's in the northern gulf. mobile. what did you say willa? >> did you? did you really smart that's my daughter. she's not telling the truth. how many inches a year doesn't get, smarty-pants? 63 inches. the impact of the storms on the golf mainland would be much greater, if not for barrier islands, that circle the gulf of mexico. the longest barrier island, padre island has a hundred and 13 miles is in texas.
in tabasco sauce was invented on a louisiana island, avery island. florida has an island that is distinguished for having the greatest population destiny on the gulf of mexico in florida also. 9000 people. square mile. does anyone have i any idea? my friend, kathy, we grew up in dallas county, do you have any idea? treasure island. treasure island and dallas county has nearly 5000 people. at the other end of the spectrum is sanibel. with under 400 people. square mile. why would you go live on treasure island? there are more than 100 rivers
that run through gulf and are responsible or help make the gulf riches environments in the world. there are more than 200 estuaries in the gulf of mexico. a quarter of all estuaries of the united states. you have barrier islands on one side and freshwater coming through and mixing in with salt water which makes the estuaries but you have the barrier islands that help contain that salt and freshwater mix. also, among those estuaries are coastal marshes and nearly half of all coastal marshes in the united states are on the gulf of mexico. most of those in louisiana. a good portion of them in the florida big bend. another form of estuary is mangrove forest. the florida is home to the majority of the country's
mandrels. these marvelous estuaries have made the golf fishery, the commercial fish wary, more productive than those of the east coast combined. eighty-five -- 80 odd some% of the domestic shrimp come from the gulf of mexico. forty some odd% come of the oysters come from the gulf of mexico. anyone who has fist offshore in the gulf of mexico knows that you can go 30 or 40 miles out -- has done that? how does the water touch? >> forty to five, you've never seen more than ten or 15 feet deep? yeah. there you go. you can run aground if you don't want out. why is that? because of the continental shelf.
the continental shelf reaches in some places along the gulf a 90 miles out and at the end of the shelf when the water is thousands of years ago when the water was much lower, the end of the continental shelf was the beach. people lived out there. florida is no sunshine state then, it it was cold and windswept and arid and they lived out there with mastodons and giant ground cloth and giant armadillos, the kind we run over on the street these days. very different place. this book is about the 10000 year relationship between the gulf of mexico and people. both gulf insiders and those who are connected to the golf from far away places. one fact i didn't mention and
that is the result of that relationship between people and the environment is that the worst oil spill occurred in the gulf of mexico. that of course was the 2010 bp disaster by the way, this is not the worst environmental disaster that the golf suffered. not even close. we can talk about that during q and a if you'd like. i began research on this book before the bp oil spill. initially, i didn't know how to put the history of the gulf of mexico together. i couldn't find the stories that i thought should be told. then this floating oil platform that none of us have heard of exploded outside of louisiana and in april 2010. eleven people tragically died
while many of us were reading in bed, oblivious to what was going on. perhaps ready to print out the lights, maybe even thinking about the next day being earth day. the very day that the deepwater horizon sank into the gulf of mexico and 487 nightmarish days that spring and summer this still dominated that news headline. no more fish, birds asked date this oil spill, neither can we humans. without realizing it, the spell consumed the golf identity. it took it over. as gettysburg of borough in pennsylvania became the most presidential address in history, the oil spill the gulf became the worst oil spill in the history. even today, 70 years later, if
you googled gulf of mexico, just those three words, these oil spills will pop up to the top of the selection. the disaster -- the thing about this disaster is the disaster does not and should not define a place. a single event in a place doesn't define that person and so with this thought in mind i now had a central objective i could start with in writing this book. that was to reclaim the gulf identity. separate from the oil spill in a truer identity. equally important just as in a biography in a person you write about hours of that person's life but but my point of view had to come from the golf entrance gulf. i wanted to bring readers into
the story through the gulf of mexico. i also wanted to have the gulf take center stage. that meant standing before or at the very least beside human subjects in human history. i wanted readers to see gulf as an agent, a force that shapes the human experience. i believe nature does. the way i decided to bring all of this to the readers was to organize the chapters in the book around national characteristics of the gulf of mexico. geography, climate, fish, birds, islands, estuaries, rivers, beaches and yes, oil. as i was writing the book, two things happen that surprise me. one, i increasingly realized that the origins of the book,
the emotions and intellectual data back to my childhood from the panhandle down to the peninsula. i didn't know back then but my experience from catching a fish to hungry down a hurricane work. me for writing a biography on gulf. no one has written a couple plans of history of the gulf of mexico. i count this a privilege to write about what i consider this wonderful thing. the other thing that happened was that when i was writing, the history open to me in a way that it seemed it wanted to be written. fiction writers often talk about the characters and stories
taking over the writing, showing the author the way through into the end of the book. that's what happened to me. in a way that did not happen with my previous books. every day i sat down to write, after i had my dark chocolate. [laughter] or while i'm having my dark chocolate, every day i sat down to write and it brought a new discovery. it revealed new connections that were in a story with this boundless web. much like the web of life in nature, this boundless web spanning landscapes and time between people and places and as i moved along through this web, i was using, not only what i found in red in the documents but also what i heard, saw, yelled, touched, and even tasted as you taste the salt air. my own experiences with gulf. past and present.
i wanted the sensory memory to come through in my writing, but i wanted it to carry the writing, to save it and guide it. when i looked into the documents which are of course the conventional material of the historian, i tried to get in touch with the sensory experiences of the human historical subjects i encountered. the spanish, french, the british, the british, the new englanders, the chicagoans and the new yorkers as well as the gulf siders on five us gulf states, florida, alabama, louisiana, and of course texas. as the larger story started emerging and as it was shoring itself to me, it put me in the direction of nature writing and
historical narrative. i incorporated both in the book. i try to weave the two together. i want to share examples of each in my reading today. those of you who already have a copy of the book, if you feel like following along, i'm going to start on page 185 which is chapter eight which is on birds. at dusk in april on the far seven shore of argentina, a bird standing on the surf ready to follow its instinct. it's a small bird less than 2 ounces wider than a couple slices of bread. its beak is straight and narrow and dark with a hint of orange. it's a fluke that peaks and speaks. its belly is white and on top winter great plumage, snowy leathers lace brown once.
pivoting his head on a barely discernible neck for final clean the bird reveals more white above the face of its tail. the white rump sandpiper has been in patagonia since december gorging on marine invertebrates. it's that will consume fuel and the sandpiper will ride on a 17-inch wingspan nearly three times as body length. it's oriented its direction by the draw toward the destination it species has known for millennia the american arctic. the same as is one of the puck is my graders in the world i the time all is said and done it will have flown 7000 miles. staying aloft for up to 16 hours a stretch. the entire length of south america passes below before the first stop is in venezuela. after rest and replacement it begins traveling under starlet ceiling which is companions
engineer but apart beating wings over the western caribbean and the yucatán and without stopping across the gulf. when the sandpipers make landfall between texas and louisiana, they drop into a spitfire dive straight toward earth. still in ring formation and down gently at water's edge. >> >> even though they knew about the writings from 1824
by hundreds of birds migrating to the north side of the gulf of mexico to the coast of the yucatan. fifty-seven years later 30 miles out from the mississippi river when were then birds of two dozen varieties would fly among them to seek referent -- refuse john his boat. reported crossing by land during the first world war it is true that along the correspondence spoke of the local packet of -- passages as accepted fact. pricier was a million birds would passover the book makes references to migrating birds in this seasonal fight to crack the
code of the trans moldavia and execution. [laughter] said now to see who was right but it was george, jr. from louisiana state university sailing out of new orleans the ship would go across the epicenter of the gulf and then he spotted the of birds overhead all hours of the day and night also identified 21 species of land birds that would come aboard then he said that the telescope. fifteen years later studying bird migrations ultimately
they learn to hundred species from dozens of families would migrate twice per year. with parts of the land taken central florida. north america is of the echo of. -- the mac among many others to journey from central america. and from south america. into a circle round the coast but most birds fly direct. and then to set bond
tropical blossoms. but then with the twilight's when the stars come out with the next morning or the afternoon. and then depending on the conditions with the open water migration and then preparing for their rival be this is the way nature works. and now as they are with the incoming land birds with us scrubs and shrubs. it seems tens of millions
arrive daily. and then the hummingbird's would follow. with every shape and color. for thousands make the approach. and then to break of of greenery to be inundated in song. with that preamble without scratching or relaxing. so with the fallout so on the gulf of 1867 basically day have the food factories
on the gulf shores. the seasonal visitors then permit residents. and dave meeting ground with the zero species with the cold weather counterparts. and then to migrate farther south. and then to fly farther north for those that stay year round. but then the birds that leave first. soon after the turn with the st. george island tens of thousands from the northeast.
the barrier islands but the colors are no longer so radiant. but with the seasonal airstream. then the sandpaper will show up. and then to be back in argentina. >> and now for academic colleagues but for a general audience or readers like yourself they like their history to be laid out those chapters are organized betted moves chronologically
in to be 1 mile wide and then the mississippi coast and then that island and not exist. and then to be burdened dog and human habitation that had of what house -- a lighthouse and a keeper in with those likely descendants of the family left in 1920. bin 60 inches of rain which would turn during the dry spells. there were lots of raccoons and those of the island
privileged spectator. andersen made up of the crossing barring from his brother but what they gunnysack and the metal garbage cans but then i when brodeur and baal but the knee if this all stain he would pull been the wind was the p. would sail. sometimes it was justin old blanket that was rigged between the mast. and with life and keller and letter-writing and traveled to and then watching those spectacles in the
and to be one month shy of his 62nd birthday. it at times stubborn. with the wind and the rain and the island creatures. buddie want to know what happened? [laughter] no spoilers. so one more thing to share video of the 10 metropolitan areas five rondo gulf of mexico. has a face that imminent challenge it is important to keep in mind to find a
and those that you try to pull out of your head to come to you to take a walk and occasion when things are not flowing correctly and then several days a week pdf you can use that as of right or i get up from early in the morning and i write for a few hours that have to go to class this or ride my bike so there are a number of writers but i am not a believer in writer's block it is just a matter artur take a break and my neighbors know this about me
that it wasn't my house. it does need major work. that is another side of my brain and that is important grade writing for for five hours than you quit but when things are really falling well because that way u.s. something to start with when he came back he would not think about what he was writing. but he probably cannot think about what he was riding because he wanted his subconscious so that would be there for them. >> i do write virtually every day in fact, some of
my best writing comes when i change kenyans anybody who knows me knows that i am very disciplined so i do get up every morning. that gets me out of bed maybe too much information but adrian between 60 and 32 ounces of water reforested down to write them half an hour later i m in the bathroom. [laughter] but that is a good place to think. [laughter] so i tell my students you have to find your writing style and it will evil over the years it is very
different from the way i wrote my first book or even my second book because it starts with a very rough outline i was still exploring and with but the writing guide me but as they said earlier every morning there was of a new surprise and digest made it thrilling to undertake. >> my understanding is the fact that the fisheries have a chance to rebound so what
we do know about the gulf is that fishing has been impacted tremendously. >> you are right the fisheries word hit hard. pdf some struggle balder than others but rebounded quickly and nature will do that if you be alone. >> for a long period of time we were not allowed to finish. >> so we had to recover from the insult from the overfishing. >> in part that is true and some will tell you that is exactly what happened but
overfishing is indeed a problem. it is the destruction of the estuaries and we have done a really good job the key is keeping burroughs healthy to be vibrant and leave them alone so when st. petersburg florida they are dumping rocks we have to stop that sort of thing and if we maintain healthy estuaries my guess for of five goals states that it would have not been necessary. but overfishing does so curb but that impact with the estuary's was healthy.
>> thank you for sharing with us talking about being on the verge with the international body of water to be interested to study that historical process on the southern gulf coast within mexico for example,. >> the space occupies exactly almost one-half. i decided to focus on the five for a couple of reasons number one american interaction with the gulf of mexico from mexico and cuba
by new my audience would be americans and wanted them to see this beyond the oil spilled also 85 percent of the fresh water flow coming out of five u.s. states and these wonderful estuaries are concentrated around the state's so that ecological character made my decision to focus on those five states with mexico and cuba to write about their part of the gulf is an intriguing idea. maybe not a full book but some articles of the above
to go down to cuba and to write about the gardens of the queen that is a very rare thriving in growing area of cuba were nearly all other areas are suffering. >> why is it not called the golden of america access -- gulf of america? [laughter] the know you're going to be on national television? [laughter] her response would be spunky. [laughter]
because the european nations name did before america can along. i did spend a sizable part of the chapter for talking about those identities impose upon mexico from the various european nations the gulf of america is not quite as poetic maybe that is because we use to the gulf of mexico. any other questions. [laughter] >> favorite place to buy gulf shrimp? >> i don't i refrain from eating seafood for the most part.
unfortunately lot of the shrimp that we buy today in the store and in restaurants is imported from asia and 80 percent of the domestic comes from did gulf of mexico but that is only a small part of the overall commercial shrimp industry and the shrimp market today and with imported trip many asian countries such as china and thailand there but the man growth forest timber shrimp to develop the aquaculture herb shrimp farms and studies have shown the economic cost to about the mangroves is greater
than the return from the aquaculture farms. >> but 85 percent of the shrimp? >> correct. but only a small portion comes from domestic waters so i don't know where is the best place to of course, the best place for oysters but of thing back hatch's as bright of a future of these commercially pdf but it is
doing wonderful in that regard as the cultural arts community because of the battle of of chattahoochee river that runs down to the day estuary because of a decades-long conflict think the waster industry there is doomed. >> i had one question knowing all the you know, is there a particular area of the goals that you feel this is that correct. >> the first question i don't know.
favorite is padre island which is one of the original license of the gulf if you visit padre island in your not transported there is something wrong with few. [laughter] it is stunning and beautiful the pollution to the natural environment the louisiana uh coastal marsh are disappearing with a boil at -- gas and real industry and contributing to the russian assault or natural sources digest like to kayak out there but other popular places like desoto park is
environmental disaster? every day in the gulf so what comes down the rivers and in the water treatment plants. with interco stole waterway -- intercoastal waterway. along with the shoreline erosion but the gulf of mexico dead zone. with the part of alabama and mississippi and right here in and florida to don't into
minnesota is hard. vice trouble with this all the time. and then to turn the audience off. soleil end the book god of helpful note with the aid of the states with university of florida to have a wonderful job to balance the economy with the protective environment with the heart of creating good jobs so those people around the gulf and many others to protect
of buy you and the sound and the lagoon there are lots of people out there. working up on the gulf of the '60s and '70s that now you go down there to be virtually wiped out but the phosphate industry stepped up and the bird life is phenomenal i did not know widow would store was then no that is full because of the sea water.
so scientists call it the wicked problem because there is some multiple bureaucracy so so other then growing above the golden during everything that you could do on the water that was possible to save so much blood is what inspired the book. >> they give for your wonderful questions. >> proceeds go to the museum
or if you already have a book bring it up and i will sign it. [inaudible conversations] >> i am here diversity of of virginia library in will be showing us that current exhibit on faulkner. >> we're in the main gallery from the special collections library from the university of virginia the current exhibition is of large urd exhibition of for that collection we have at the library a great american novelist who spent the last few years of his career in